“We recognize that the name change will be difficult for some of us and that the transition will take time,” said team owner Paul Dolan. “We hope and believe this change will take us off a divisive path and instead point us into a future where our fans, our city and our region will all be united as the Cleveland Guardians.”
Manager Terry Francona, who played for the Indians and is the son of a former Cleveland player, said on Friday: “We try to be as respectful as possible. And it’s not about us, it’s about the others.
“And you have to come out of your own skin and think about other people who might have a different skin color and what they’re thinking. And we’ve tried to be really respectful and I’m really proud of our organization.”
“Indians will always be a part of our history, just as Cleveland has always been the most important part of our identity,” Dolan said. “In researching a new brand, we were looking for a name that strongly reflects the pride, resilience and loyalty of the Clevelanders. “
The Cleveland club will retain its colors, according to the club.
A “welcome and necessary” change
Home Secretary Deb Haaland, the First Secretary to the Native American Cabinet, called the move a “welcome and necessary change.”
A prominent Native American activist also praised the club’s decision on Friday.
“This is an important step towards redressing the wrongs committed against indigenous peoples and a step towards justice,” Echo Hawk said in a statement.
Echo Hawk renewed its call for other sports teams with names evoking Native Americans to follow suit.
How the Guardians Were Chosen
The team interviewed 40,000 fans, conducted 140 hours of interviews with fans, community leaders and staff, and looked at more than 1,190 names before choosing Guardians, he said.
“‘Guardians’ reflects these defining attributes while taking inspiration from the iconic Guardians of Traffic just outside of Hope Memorial Bridge stadium,” Dolan said in the team’s press release. “It brings to life the pride the Clevelanders have in our city and the way we fight together for all who choose to be part of the Cleveland baseball family.
“While ‘Indians’ will always be a part of our history, our new name will help unify our fans and our city as we are all Cleveland Guardians.”
CNN’s Terence Burlij, Nicquel Terry Ellis, Gregory Wallace and David Close contributed to this report.